Close your eyes. Replace the image in front of you with empty darkness. Now, imagine trying to fumble through the world without sight, just as Malorie must navigate an apocalyptic world with two nameless children in the Netflix blockbuster Bird Box.
Where most horror films rely on the gritty visuals of monsters, gore and ghosts, Bird Box tosses out that formula and instead creates tension and dread through sound alone (though the suicides of supporting characters are admittedly difficult to stomach). Wind whips around Malorie, signaling the return of the invisible creatures. Hushed voices emanate from nowhere and surround our protagonist, pleading with her, telling her it will be alright, if only she removes her blindfold. The contrast of empty, pulsating silence and the whispers drawing nearer and nearer make the sound of the movement — of whatever it is that’s moving — so absolutely terrifying, you almost pull the blindfold off, just to see what’s there.
Watching Bird Box with a Denon AV receiver unlocked the sensory experience of surround sound, amplifying the tension and horror as each disembodied voice swept around the room. The wide soundscape of Denon elevated the eerie dichotomy of silence and sonic tension, pulling you further into the terror until you are blinded by fear (pun intended).